BY NANCY BOYCE
Copyright is held by the author.
THE CLOUDS HID the sun and a cold wind came up. I leaned into the wind, forcing myself to walk quickly. My puppy was learning how to heel and it helped if I kept a brisk pace. Icy rain stung my face, so I pulled up my hood, hunched my shoulders and stared down at the road ahead. I glanced up and saw snow swirling around my face, then noticed the ground was covered in snow and so was my puppy. I didn’t understand how a snow storm could come up so suddenly; it was only October. The clouds broke and a ray of warm sun shone through and the snow on the road began to melt. It stayed on my puppy’s head making her look old and grey. I leaned down to brush the snow off her head, but it remained streaked. My hands looked more veined as if I was suddenly older too; perhaps it was the cold air.
Something was wrong, everything around me was different. The orange and yellow leaves were gone and the trees were grey and bare. I raised my arm and looked at my strange coat. I didn’t know this coat, I didn’t know these pants, nor these boots. What was happening? I tried to walk faster, to get to the comfort of my home where everything would be familiar and safe. “C’mon Bailey, let’s hurry.” Bailey couldn’t hurry, she chose to move slowly.
Finally, we approached our house. The garage door was open. I didn’t recognize the car parked in the garage, but felt relieved to see my husband’s pickup truck.
We walked into the house and frantically I called to my husband. I walked to the windows and saw him working down by the water. As I turned, I noticed how faded the sofa cushions were. I had just bought them this summer, was so pleased with how they brightened up the room.
I was confused and exhausted. I lay on my bed and pulled the duvet up around me. Bailey snuggled in close to me. I stroked her fur and spoke to her softly. “What happened, Bailey? We were going to spend every day together and keep each other young. I wanted it to be different than it was with Sam. I wasn’t going to wish for you to be grown up and calm. I was going to enjoy every moment of you being a puppy.” I cried myself to sleep.
I dreamed vivid dreams; they seemed so real. I dreamed of our days together as if they were yesterday. Thanksgiving had just passed and we were making the rounds, saying goodbye to our cottager friends. Bailey was nine months old and full of energy. I released her and let her run to greet the neighbours. She ran circles around my friend’s cottage and I egged her on with, “Run Bailey, run!” I let her have a quick swim and then we set off for our walk. I rewarded her at the end of the walk with a visit to another friend. We went into our friend’s cottage and Bailey played with their dog. Then I let her run down the stairs and out to the water. She was having the time of her life.
I felt something slam into my chest. I had trouble breathing. My face felt wet. A bright light hurt my eyes, but I forced them to open.
My young Bailey was lying on my chest, licking my face, demanding that I get up and play.
My husband entered the room. “Are you two going to get up? It’s a beautiful day, time’s a wasting.”